Right now, I feel like my thoughts fluctuate between two different positions:
- Things will go back to normal soon. Everything is going to be fine. There’s great opportunity hidden in the midst of uncertainty. You can do this!
- Things will never be normal. Everything is terrible. Will the clothing store I worked at in high school, Maurice the Pants Man, rehire me? You can’t do this!
The cool thing is that some days, I have both of those thoughts in the same exact hour if not the same exact minute.
This is the weirdest season ever. I just keep saying that word over and over again. Weird. This is weird. How weird.
Fortunately, I wrote a book about overthinking and learned an awful lot about changing my thoughts. I can’t wait for you to read it. It comes out in April and I think it’s going to help a ton of people who feel like they’re overthinking everything.
Until then though, what are other books that might be encouraging during these discouraging times?
Well today, I’ll tell you my personal list of 5 encouraging books for discouraging times:
I loved what Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame said about this book. She wrote, “The world that I am required to inhabit is this one. But the world that I long to inhabit is the one that Charlie Mackesy has created.” That’s what this is. It’s a beautiful, inspiring world where a boy goes on an adventure with a few friends. It reminds me a little bit of Winnie the Pooh, in that it sneaks up on you with deep wisdom. When I looked it up on Amazon, I was blown away to see that it has 23,000 reviews! There’s a good chance you’ve already seen this one, but if you haven’t, give it a look.
2. “This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” written by David Foster Wallace.
David Foster Wallace’s life came to a tragic end in 2008, but this book is one of the most hopeful things I’ve ever read. It’s not long. It’s actually the commencement address he gave in 2005 at Kenyon College. It’s about freedom and attention and what we all get to choose to focus our lives on. It’s a book that I need to reread at least once a year, especially when I get obsessed with my own needs, my own fears and my own kingdom.
3. “Positivity: Discover the Upward Spiral that Will Change Your Life” written by Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD.
This is the most scientific book on the list but don’t let that fool you, this is highly readable and highly practical. Dr. Fredrickson is a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I quoted her in my new book because she’s one of the leading scholars on the subject of positivity and I wanted to go beyond all the motivational clichés you often see about this topic. My favorite part of this book, which I won’t spoil for you here, is her positivity ratio. If you want a non-fiction, no nonsense read on positivity, this is the one.
4. “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball” written by Kevin Carroll.
I saw Kevin speak live more than a decade ago and bought this book immediately. Have you ever done that? Maybe you saw a TED talk online or went to an event and really connected with the speaker?
That was Carroll for me. He has an infectious spirit and outlook on life. He’s worked with the NHL, ESPN, Nike, and Starbucks. His words have actually appeared on 17 million Grande cups. That’s a fun fact. This is one of those small, powerful books packed with hope. I love the design, too. Each pages feels like a chance to explore something new.
5. “What do you do with a problem?” written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom.
Another children’s book? Do you see a theme here? When I’m feeling discouraged, I want something colorful, creative and simple. If you’ve got a 600-page book about encouragement, just lifting that thing is going to bum me out. Books like this on the other hand are paper serotonin. I first discovered Yamada’s work when I read, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” I loved that book and was excited to discover this second one. The illustrations are ridiculous. I hope Mae Besom has a long, massive career because her stuff is gorgeous. Again, it’s one of those books that’s for kids but is actually for adults, too.
Those are five books that I find really encouraging and I tried to pick a variety across a couple of different genres.
These are weird times.
They are, but sometimes all you need to pick up your spirits is a new book.
I’ve included all the links to the books so that you can go check them out for yourself. They are affiliate links of course, because babies need shoes!
I hope you enjoy those books as much as I do.
P.S. Want to see the 5 books that changed my life? Watch this!
P.P.S. Bonus book! The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery by Henri Nouwen has been kicking my butt this summer.